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Useful information for shore excursions in Penang
We have put together all useful information about the most beautiful tourist attractions, a map of the cruise port as well as other tips for your cruise excursions on Penang below:
The most beautiful attractions in Penang
Penang is a state in Malaysia, which includes the island of the same name and a coastal strip (Seberang Perai). The island – a world-famous exotic holiday destination – was once known as Pulau Pinang or the “Isle of Betel Nut”.
Penang Island offers many cultural attractions, activities and stunning natural landscapes. The most interesting sights of Penang include the picturesque alleys of the city George Town and the breathtaking scenery of the island. On Penang there are many temples, which are all worth a visit. George Town is very easy to explore on your own. The island is best discovered as part of a guided shore excursion.
The capital, George Town, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008 for its best preserved colonial houses. Georgetown is one of the largest cities in Malaysia with 1.6 million inhabitants.
The Kapitan Keling Mosque was built in the 19th century and belongs to the World Heritage Site of George Town. It is still one of the city’s active places of worship. With domed vaults and crescent-moon peaks and stars, the mosque is an impressive addition to the George Town skyline.
Another highlight in George Town is the Khoo Kongsi Klan house. It is not a temple, but one of the largest mansions of Penang. The Klan house is impressively decorated with a variety of carvings, dragons, phoenixes, mysterious animals and various scenes depicting well-known Chinese legends.
In George Town there is a complete village on stilts over the water where Chinese clans live. Each jetty (Clan Jetties) is named after a Chinese clan – the Chew Jetty is the most tourist friendly and also the temple with the most stilts. It is definitely worth a visit.
Fort Cornwallis is the largest fort in Malaysia and was built in the 18th century. It is one of George Town’s most interesting and historic landmarks. The walls of the fortress are built in a star shape and about 9.8 ft high. Within the ramparts, you can also visit a chapel, the prison cells, an ammunition warehouse and a lighthouse.
In the island’s capital George Town you can admire the world-famous incomparable Street Art on almost every corner. Every month, new, creative works of art appear on the walls of the houses, giving the Old Town its unique charm. The artist Ernest Zacharevic is particularly well known for his special style: he mixes great murals with real objects like motorcycles or chairs. This creates unique and unforgettable photo opportunities.
The Wat Chaiya Mangkalaram Temple is the largest Thai temple on the Malaysian island of Penang. Built in 1845, it is home to the third largest reclining Buddha in the world. Buddhists believe that the recumbent Buddha (with his head lying in the palm of his right hand and pointing his head north) signifies enlightenment or nirvana. The temple is decorated in typical Thai style with extravagant ceilings. The entrance is decorated by a statue of a Naga (a Southeast Asian water dragon), while the exit is embellished by a Chinese dragon (the East Asian equivalent). It is surely a special and beautiful sight on Penang with its ornate golden pagodas and murals.
Penang Hill & mountain railway
Penang Hill is 2,723 ft above sea level and is 3.7 mi from Georgetown. Actually, the Penang Hill is a combination of several hills, but is often regarded only as a mountain. On Penang Hill you will find the last piece of tropical rainforest in Penang. Flora and fauna have been protected here since 1960. Nevertheless, there is the possibility to explore this special nature along a natural trail and hike among 98-ft high trees.
Today, the ridge on Penang Hill is also known as Strawberry Hill, as the area was formerly known for growing strawberries. From the top of Penang Hills you can enjoy the stunning panorama on a clear day. From this height, you can also see the mountains of Langkawi and North Kedah, as well as Malaysia’s mainland and the Penang Bridge in the background. There is also a Hindu temple Sri Aruloli Thirumurugan as well as a mosque to discover on top of the hill.
The most popular way to get to the top of the hill is with the Penang Hill Railway. Situated at the foot of the hill, this Swiss desigend, narrow-gauge funicular railway starts here and was already built in 1923. It is one of the oldest cable car systems in the world and has a length of almost 1.24 mi. The travel time is between 5 and 20 minutes, depending on whether it stops at the intermediate stations.
Kek Lok Si Tempel
On a hill near Penang Hill you will find Kek Lok Si, the largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia. This 25-acre majestic complex was acquired in 1893 and then the construction of this complex started. Kek Lok Si is also referred to as the “Temple of Supreme Bliss” and offers much more than the impressive temple. In addition to numerous souvenir shops, the place also has a turtle and fish pond, several ornate prayer halls, beautiful pagodas and bell towers. If you want to improve your own karma, you should definitely feed the turtles in the so-called “Liberation Pond”. From the hill on which the complex sits, you have a great view of George Town and the surrounding area.
The main attraction of the temple, however, is the impressive seven-story pagoda of the Ten Thousand Buddhas (Rama VI Pagoda) which was completed in 1930. The 98-ft-high pagoda features 10,000 alabaster and bronze statues of Buddha and combines various architectural styles of various Buddhist countries: the base is Chinese, the middle is Thai and the top is Burmese.
Chinese New Year festival is the best time to visit Kek Lok Si Temple. During this festival, the temple is adorned with thousands of colorful hanging lanterns.
Map of the cruise port on Penang
Up to two cruise ships can dock at the port of George Town, the capital of the island, at Swettenham Pier. From the cruise terminal it is only a couple of feet to the historic Old Town. Directly in the harbor building there is a taxi rank, a currency exchange and some shops for drinks and snacks.
Things to know about shore excursions on Penang
Shipping companies and routes
Penang is always a popular destination for Asian cruises. Therefore, this is the destination of many shipping companies such as the Princess, NCL, Oceania or Royal Caribbean cruises.
Immigration and visa
American citizens are required to have a passport valid for at least six months to enter Malaysia. Americans do not need to obtain a Malaysia visa in advance for a pleasure or business trip if their stay in Malaysia is 90 days or less.
British nationals don’t need a visa to visit Malaysia. You will normally be given permission to stay for 3 months on arrival.
The currency in Malaysia is the Malaysian Ringitt (MYR). 100 MYR = 24.07 USD = 18.44 Pounds. You can exchange your money before your cruise begins. Nevertheless, you can pay by credit card almost everywhere. Attention: Some taxi rides do not accept payments by credit card, it is better to withdraw or exchange some Ringgit (MYR) beforehand.
Taxi and other public transports
If you have not booked a transfer or guided shore excursion, there are numerous taxis available at the port of Penang. It is better to set the price in advance so that you do not experience any unpleasant surprises afterwards. However, the Old Town of George Town is also within easy walking distance. Penang also has a very good and cheap bus network. Here you will find the main bus routes to the most famous sights.
Penang generally has a very tropical climate. If you want to avoid rain and high temperatures, the best travel time is in the winter months between January and February or in the summer months of June, July and August. During these months, the weather is best for a holiday in Malaysia. It is mostly sunny, humidity is not that high and the average temperature is a pleasant 25 °C / 77 °F.
Websites of the port and tourist organizations
- Official website of the port: Port Authority Penang
- Official website: My Penang
- Online tour guide: Wikitravel
Video: Impressions of Penang
“My Cruise Excursion” will give you a great way to experience your Asian cruise. We are currently working on our own offer for Penang, so check back frequently on this page.
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